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  • Writer's pictureSarah

A November and February trip to Ronda, Spain - Updated article March 2023

Updated: Mar 11, 2023

We've just had our first anniversary of being officially 'Civilly Partnered' and it brought back some wonderful memories of our mini-moon this time last year. Our friends had gifted us a stay in their villa just outside Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, and we'd hired a car, so getting out and about was very easy.

I'd spent quite a few summers in this part of Spain as a teenager, but back then it was all about the beach and clubbing and I hadn't ventured inland much, unless forced to by my parents! These days we both really enjoy seeing landscapes and finding out about local history, so with Ronda around 90km away it was too good an opportunity to miss.

The journey took about an hour and half each way with tolls to pay of around 11 Euros. Parking was relatively easy, we found an underground carpark in one of the main squares of the town.

The view from Benahavis with Gibraltar in the distance
En route to Ronda; the view from Benahavis with Gibraltar in the distance

So why visit Ronda?

Firstly, it's simply spectacular. Its cliff top location, and the chasm running through it dividing the town makes it an amazing sight.

The ravine at Ronda
The ravine at Ronda

Secondly, it's one of the oldest towns in Spain, with layers of history to be found. Remains from prehistoric settlements of the Neolithic period were found in the cave paintings of the nearby 'Cueva de la Pileta'.

The Celts were the first settlers of Ronda in the 6th Century B.C., giving the town its original name of Arunda. After the Phoenicians were defeated by the Romans, the town really grew and became established. The decline of the Roman Empire left the way open for the Moors to arrive and make the place theirs.

The first invasions of Spain began in 711 when the Moors captured Gibraltar. The castle of Ronda was conquered by the Moors, and Ronda became a city that was in control of an entire region. Gradually Roman and Visigoth buildings were replaced by Muslim mosques and buildings.

Many important buildings were built, such as the Arab Baths, Mondragón Palace, while the city walls were developed and fortified over the centuries. The water mine was a feat of engineering, which is still viewable today.

There's a viewing platform to the bottom of the gorge where the water mine is located
There's a viewing platform to the bottom of the gorge where the water mine is located.

A Christian army surrounded the city in 1485 and the water mine was occupied, leaving the city without a water supply. Ronda was finally reconquered in 1485 when the city surrendered after a brief siege.

On our second trip we visited the gardens of Casa del Rey, where we saw this unusually patterned peacock and the water mine. It's a long way down and an even longer way back up!

Ronda is famous for its three bridges crossing the chasm; Puente Romano, the Puente Viejo and the famous Puente Nuevo.

The Puente Nuevo as the name indicates is the newest of these bridges and also the largest at 120 meters long and 98 meters high. Construction began in 1759 and ended in 1793, taking over 30 years and 2 architects. Within the bridge there is a peculiar chamber which has had several uses but mainly served as a jail cell. It was used as recently as the Spanish Civil War.

There was an earlier bridge built in the same place in 1735. This first bridge was poorly built with a single arch and in 1741 it collapsed killing 50 people. The redesign therefore had to provide greater stability.

Puente Viejo (Old Bridge) is located in a lower part of the walls of Ronda. The bridge was built in 1616 and is used for pedestrians. The bridge consists of one arch of 10 meters and it is 31 meters high above the river.

The Puente Arabe is also called the Roman bridge, even though it was built in the era of the Arabs. Through this 12 meter high bridge (and a tower which no longer exists), one could go to the east side of the city Ronda.

Stone building with columns either side of doorway with South American figures in the town of Ronda

There are hints to other Spanish conquests too. If you look carefully at the statutes adorning the above building, they are neither Roman nor Christian, but brought back from South America.

Exterior of the Plaza de Toros statutes of bullfighters on either side of the entrance
Exterior of the Plaza de Toros

Like most Spanish towns of any size, there is a bull-ring. The Plaza de Toros was built entirely of stone in the 18th century, and it is home to the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda, Spain’s oldest and most noble order of horsemanship and an order that traces its heritage back to 1485. This was the year that the Catholic Monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella defeated the Moors in Ronda.

Where to eat and drink?

We just wandered and ate some tapas for lunch. As with most touristy places, the further you go from the main attractions the more authentic you'll find the food.

There were restaurants with wonderful views across the gorge which would be worth exploring. The two places we want to visit when we come back are:

Tragatá for refined tapas by chef Benito Gómez

Nueva 4, Ronda, 29400, Spain

Bardal which holds 2 Michelin Stars

José Aparicio 1, Ronda, 29400, Spain

Update we ate here during our February stay - separate post to come.

Where to stay?

On our February trip we stayed at the Parador which is the former Town Hall; it has the most amazing views over the gorge and the Puente Nuevo.

Room tip: When you book, ask for room 13, 113 or 213 as these have double balconies. Prices for a night in November for a double room start from around £125 including breakfast.

Plaza de España, s/n, 29400 Ronda


Ronda is a pretty compact place, so it's entirely possible to see the gorge, walk over the bridges, visit the gardens, see the water mine, visit the bull-ring, do a little shopping, and just sit with a chilled glass of something and admire that stunning view. Do bear in mind that if you visit in November and February like we did, it's advisable to wear layers as it's high up and may have a bit of a chill in the air. If you are visiting southern Spain, this is a 'must see'.



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